Periodontitis and CVD: What Is the Link?

W. Steven Pray; Joshua J. Pray


US Pharmacist. 2005;30(2):16-22. 

In This Article

How Does Periodontitis Cause CVD?

Periodontitis is a bacterial infection of the gums and periodontium (supporting tissues of the tooth).[4,5] Teeth are supported in their bony sockets by connective tissue ligament fibers that extend from the tooth surface to the bone. Failure to clean the gingival sulcus allows bacterial infection to extend downward below the gumline into subgingival spaces where the periodontal ligament is located. When subgingival areas of infection, which lead to periodontal pockets, are not treated, the periodontal ligaments are destroyed, causing tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss.

An association between periodontal health and systemic disease is not farfetched in light of research confirming that Escherichia coli and Helicobacter pylori (among other organisms) have also been linked to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events.[5] In perhaps the same manner, periodontitis disturbs systemic homeostasis. It is possible that chronic damage of epithelial tissues due to periodontitis may induce the periodontal pocket to ulcerate, allowing access to the bloodstream.[4] Bacteria and their toxins, localized tissue response to cytokines (proteins that regulate other cells in the blood), and additional mediators of inflammation can all disrupt homeostasis when toxins gain entry to the systemic circulation.[6]


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